Monthly Archives: April 2017

Webby Awards 2017: A Look At The Top 12 Stats & Facts

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Key highlights from Webby Awards 2017

 

Earlier this week, the winners of the 21st Webby Awards – dubbed as ‘Internet’s Highest Honour’ by the New York Times – were announced. The much anticipated glittering award show will be held at Cipriani Wall Street, on the 15th of May. This year, the winners were chosen from over 13000 entries (coming in from 70+ countries across the globe), giving credence to the fact that the Webby Awards is indeed the biggest and the most prestigious annual award ceremony related to the World Wide Web. In what follows, we will take a look around at some interesting information about Webby Awards 2017:

  1. The Host

    They say that a star-studded, glitzy award ceremony simply cries out for a good host – and the Webby Awards have never failed to deliver in this regard. Over the years (the ceremony was first held in 1996), eminent names from the fields of internet and television, like Rob Corddry, Seth Meyers, B.J. Novak, Lisa Kudrow (that’s the delightful ‘Phoebe’ from F.R.I.E.N.D.S.), Hannibal Buress and Nick Offerman have graced the podium as the show’s hosts. This year, the mantle will be taken over by none other than the celebrated American comedian Joel Edward McHale (from CBS’ ‘The Great Indoors’). The Webby Awards have a reputation of being very witty events (in 2016, Patton Oswalt rode a horse while giving the ‘Best Viral Video’ prize to Jimmy Kimmel!). Expect laughters to flow and audiences to enjoy every moment of the function this year too.

  2. The Organizers

    The organizing body of the Webby Awards is the International Academy Of Digital Arts and Sciences, or IADAS. Several former Webby winners and nominees are a part of the 2000-strong Academy, which also has many leading business personalities, creative celebrities, online service experts, and other well-known members. The Academy is also in charge of selecting the nominees for all the award categories. Given the fact that the members had to sort from approximately 13K entries from more than 50 states – the Academy sure had a serious job to do…something that they did well.

  3. The Award Categories

    The Webby Awards were first launched just after the first-gen digital revolution (i.e., the arrival of the World Wide Web). Since then, as the web has grown in size and scope, the Awards have very nicely kept pace with it. In 2017, the Webby Awards ceremony will felicitate winners from as many as 6 media categories – a) Advertising, Media & PR, b) Websites, c) Social, d) Film & Video, e) Mobile Sites & Apps, and f) Podcasts & Digital Audio. As a mobile app company, we particularly dig the fact that sub-topics covered under ‘Mobile Sites & Apps’ – visual design, content, interactivity, structure and navigation – are really exhaustive.

Note: 2 Awards are given out in each category. The first is the Webby Award (winners chosen by the IADAS) and the second is the Webby People’s Voice Award (winners chosen through online voting).

     4. The Winners

On April 25, the list of final winners of Webby Awards were announced. As has been the case for the last 3-4 years, millions of votes poured in – and everything had to be carefully checked, to come up with the winners’ list. Lady Gaga bagged the ‘Integrated Campaign (Film & Video)’ award, Buzzfeed was voted as the ‘Best Interview/Talk Show For Another Round’ as well as the ‘Best News App’, Jimmy Kimmel Live! was, expectedly, the ‘Best Comedy’, and ‘HBO Now’ was chosen as the ‘Best Chosen Video’. Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ helped her grab an award, while the insanely popular mobile game ‘Pokemon Go’ was also among the major winners. Other successes at the 21st Webby Awards included names like ‘Spotify’ (Best Music App; Best Streaming Audio), ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ (Best Celebrity/Fan Social Presence’, the much-loved ‘Game of Thrones’ (‘Best Overall Social Presence’), and ‘Planned Parenthood’ (Best Charitable Organization). In the ‘Websites’ category, ‘FactCheck.org’ and ‘Squarespace’ were among the winners.

Note: In all, 407 winners were announced. With 11 Webby awards, National Geographic had the most success.

     5. The Judges

It takes one to know one…and as far as the Webby Awards are concerned, the team of judges comprises of individuals who indeed have the credentials to make the best selection from the nominees. Biz Stone, Alex Blumberg, Kevin Spacey, Shane Smith, Eva Chen and Jimmy Kimmel are some of the celebrities in the Executive Academy of the IADAS. There is significant representation from media and publication houses too, like The LA Times, Elle, Wallpaper, Details, and The New York Times.

Note: The first round of judging is done by the Associate Members of the Academy. The Executive Members take over after that.

  1. The Sponsors

    For a high-profile annual extravaganza like the Webbys, it is hardly surprising to see the biggest of brands and organizations making a beeline to become its official sponsors and partners. The 2017 edition of the event includes HBO, Mustache, YouTube, Vitamin T and Epsilon in its team of sponsors. The Hollywood Reporter, Digiday, Billboard and WNYC feature among the many media partners of the ceremony. In 2016, online and print media (along with broadcasts) combined to generate well over 2.5 billion media impressions of the event. The Webby Awards are well-publicized, that’s for sure!

  2. The Special Achievement Awards

    Apart from the regular winners, 6 ‘Special Achievement’ prizes have been announced for this year’s Webby Awards. The ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Actress’ awards went to Steve Buscemi and Gillian Anderson respectively – while Solange was recognized as the ‘Webby Artist Of The Year’. BBDO won in the ‘Agency of The Year’ category, Van Jones took the ‘Webby Special Achievement’ prize, and Women’s March won as the ‘Social Movement of the Year’. The ‘Webby Lifetime Achievement’ award went to Internet Archive.

  3. The Competition

    Within the 6 broad categories, there are more than 100 sub-categories for which entries can be sent. Only the best five entries from the millions received are selected as the final list of nominees. Keeping in perspective the huge volume of entries submitted, the IADAS also selects a few ‘Official Honorees’ (apart from the nominees). Only if an entry is deemed to be ‘outstanding’ by the judges’ panel, it is selected as an ‘Honoree’. The competition is humongous – with a measly 14%-15% entries actually making it to this list of ‘Honorees’.

Note: The academy reserves the right of deciding the number of ‘Honorees’ in each category. A category might well have no ‘Official Honoree’ at all.

  1. The Trophy

    Standing as a winner on the podium of the Webby Awards ceremony is hallowed experience – and the trophies are fittingly beautiful as well. The lovely ‘Webby Statuette’ is handed to each winner at the event (and they can buy duplicate statuettes later), while all the nominees receive framed and completely customized certificates. In passing, it should be mentioned that the ‘Webby Statuette’ is completely hand-casted, and that adds to its charm. The websites of the winners receive badges.

  2. The Dates

    As already mentioned above, the 21st Webby Awards ceremony will be organized on 15 May at the Cipriani Wall Street (from 7:00 pm). The event will be preceded by the ‘Opening Cocktail Reception’ – where the guests will get excellent networking opportunities with peers and industry leaders. The activities kickstart the previous day itself (May 14), with the ‘5-Word Speech Recording Day’ (for winners) and the ‘Webby Sunset Cocktails’, where Johnny Walker will be one of the co-hosts. The after-party of Webby Awards 2017 will be held at the Highline Ballroom on May 15, right after the awards ceremony (from 10:00 PM).

Note: The event will be streamed online on 16 May.

   11. The Newsletter

A high-profile media event like the Webby Awards, understandably, has its very own newsletter. Named ‘011’, the newsletter offers readers all the latest information and tidbits about the awards in particular, and the IADAS in general. In addition, ‘411 announcements’ are sent to every ‘011’ subscriber – provided that they have opted in for the special Webby Awards messages and notifications. Subscribing to the information-rich ‘011’ is the best possible way to keep track of all that is happening related to Webby.

   12. The Criticism

For all its merits and the huge craze that surrounds it every year, the Webby Awards (and along with it, the Academy) comes in for one criticism in particular – about its ‘pay-to-enter’ policy. Even the awardees and the nominees have to pay the designated registration fee to participate in the event. In fairness though, it has to be said that the entree fee fund provide a much more ‘reliable’ and ‘sustainable’ model of growth and judging of the Webby Awards. Relying only on sponsorship deals is not a particularly bright idea.

The Webby Awards annually recognizes excellence in the field of internet, web services and media. Participants can hail from all over the world (not restricted to US entries only) – and entries in foreign languages are also accepted (although the Academy encourages participants to include English subtitles, translations, and dubbings, as applicable). Two things, in particular, stand out about the Webby Awards – the completely fair and transparent judging system, and the unwavering focus to the feature. The Awards have been instrumental in improving the standard of the internet over the last couple of decades, and the good work will surely continue in the future.

All eyes, then, on the Webby Award Ceremony 2017. It’s going to be big!

The Different Phases Of App Development Lifecycle: An Overview

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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This year, the total number of app downloads has been projected to hover around the 197 billion mark. If you feel that is a remarkable figure, sample this: in 2021, nearly 353 billion smartphone applications will be downloaded (a jump of almost 80%). The worldwide revenues generated by the mobile app industry is also expected to witness big increases – from an already impressive $45 billion in 2016 to a staggering $80.6 billion by the end of this decade (App Annie puts the 2020 figure at $101 billion). Given the serious competition and the enormous scopes of growth in front of mobile app developers/companies, the onus is on them to come up with software that would indeed be able to capture the attention of 2.3 billion+ smartphone owners. For that, a thorough understanding of the various stages of the app development lifecycle (a variant of the Software Development Lifecycle, or SDLC) is essential. In today’s discussion, we will focus on that:

First Phase: Idea Generation/Research/App Inception

Good apps come from great ideas – and in the initial stage of the app development lifecycle, the emphasis is squarely on the latter. The target audience for a particular app has to be identified (targeting every smartphone-user would be too challenging). An idea-owner also needs to be aware of the competitive advantage of his/her proposed application, the value it would generate and deliver to its prospective users, which platform(s) the app will be made, and whether the app will be free/paid. To be successful, a new mobile application has to be a problem-solver – addressing user-requirements in a better manner than other, similar apps.

Once an app idea is finalized (and yes, it should always be ‘one idea at a time’), owners have to do a thorough research of the app stores (App Store/Play Store, depending on their choice of platform). This would enable them to have a clear idea about the existing applications in the same category, and how an improvement over them can be made. With Apple App Store having 2.2 million apps and Google Play Store offering 2.8 million apps (as of March 2017), this research is likely to take some time. In case there are fundings required, sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can be checked out. Idea-owners, in all probability, will also have to hire a mobile app company to work on their projects. Click here to check out the things that have to be considered while selecting an app agency.

The importance of knowing about the ‘App Triangle’ is also paramount, in this ideation phase. Think of it as an equilateral triangle – with ‘Quality’, ‘Time’ and ‘Cost’ at the three vertices. A proper balance across the three have to be maintained (i.e., the ‘App Triangle’ should be pareto-optimal). Changes in any one parameter will have repercussions on the others.

Second Phase: Wireframing/Feasibility Analysis/Prototyping

A seemingly good app idea might face many glitches during the implementation stage. To avoid such problems, a proper visual representation of the idea (basic sketches – showing the main screens of the app and how it would work) is required. Generally, such basic wireframing can be done with pen and paper, with more professional-level wireframing being required in the next phase. The technical feasibility of transforming an idea into an app also has to be closely analysed. In case it is found that working on a particular idea would be too complicated, it would be advisable to move on and start researching for another app idea.

Next up, the app-developers working on the idea would build a very basic prototype of the application. This prototyping is primarily done to get a first-hand experience of the ‘flow’ and the ‘touch experience’ of the app on actual devices (Android/iOS). For web-connectivity and backend functionality, APIs would be required (public APIs and custom APIs) – and these are examined in this stage as well.

Feedback is a powerful tool for judging the potential of a brand-new app idea. Owners should be proactive while sharing their ideas with other, reliable people (reliability is important here, since the ownership and the intellectual property rights of the app are at stake). Getting an idea checked from multiple perspectives would make it easy to form an objective opinion about it.

Third Phase: UI Design/Mockups/UX Design/Exhaustive Wireframing

Although ‘UI’ and ‘UX’ are often used as interchangeable terms, the two are not synonymous. The first refers to the actual layout of the app interface, including the graphics, animations, text, colors, and all other visual elements. ‘UX’, or user-end experience, on the other hand, is all about the overall journey of people while using the app. In essence, ‘UI’ can be considered to be a subset of ‘UX’. Before the start of the third phase of the mobile app development cycle, the distinctions between ‘UI’ and ‘UX’ have to be made clear. This article will be a handy read.

The first thing to come under the spotlight in this stage is the UX design. Prior to designing the interfaces with graphic elements, an idea of how an app would work and what type of experience it would deliver to end-users has to be formed. Building on from the sketches created in the previous phase, high-fidelity mockups (along with more detailed wireframes) are prepared now. For iOS applications in particular, storyboarding is also done during this phase. Storyboards provide in-depth insights about the overall app architecture and the likely behaviour of the target users.

The platform(s) selected for a new app as well as the ‘form factor’ of the hardware devices on which the app would work influence the UX plans. For instance, while working on an iOS application – designers have to keep in mind that iDevices do not have any ‘back button’. Similarly, the differences in the form factors of mobiles, tablets, phablets and wearables have to be taken into consideration (i.e., the differences in screen real estates).

After the UX and the app infrastructure have been chalked out, the focus shifts to UI designing. In here, the actual colours and graphics for the app are finalized, and the general in-app navigation is planned. App designers often refer to resources like Behance to get references on how to design a new software. As opposed to the plain B&W mockups required for UX design, colorful, graphics-loaded and professionally-styled interfaces are formed during UI designing. Once again, the choice of platform(s) for the app has a role to play.

Note: As a rule of thumb, app designing and coding (development stage, to be covered next) have to be done by different, specialized teams. Most leading app companies have separate teams of developers and graphic artists.

While deciding the UI and UX designs of an app, the platform-specific rules and guidelines have to be factored in. Apple developers have to follow the ‘Human Interface Guidelines’, while Android app-makers have to abide by the specified ‘Design Guidelines’.

Fourth Phase: Development/Agile Methodology/App Testing

To put things in perspective, ‘app development’ starts right from the point when a mobile company takes up a project. However, the actual coding starts from this phase. Broadly speaking, an app goes through 4 stages over here. The first is the ‘Prototype’ stage, where the software only has its main functionality and exists as a ‘Proof-of-Concept’ (PoC). Then, it moves into the ‘Alpha’ stage, when the app is built (the testing is not done), and most features & functionalities are incorporated. The third stage is known as the ‘Beta’ stage, and over here, some preliminary testing and bug-fixing is done (nearly all functionalities are now present in the app). Finally, the app goes to the ‘Release Candidate’ phase – where all testing has been done, and the app is set to be submitted at the store(s).

As an app goes through the four stages of development, its stability and functionality increases – while the number of bugs go down. In fact, testing generally starts from the design phase itself (for prototype testing). Apart from testing applications on simulators and emulators (both Xcode and Android Studio has built-in testing support), the software is also tested on actual devices, over the cloud, and through the various online app testing service tools – like Testflight (iOS) and Hockeyapp (iOS, Android, Windows). Click here for a more focused explanation of mobile app testing.

The initial deployment of an app (for testing) is generally done from the development engine/IDE (integrated development environment) itself. This, however, no longer remains an option as the number of testers/early prototype users increase. Of course, by this stage, the app-makers working on the project should have valid developer accounts.

In the domain of mobile app development, the focus has shifted to following an ‘agile methodology’ (as opposed to the traditional ‘waterfall methodology). In an agile environment, most development stages are iterative, testing happens at multiple points, and considerable importance is placed on preparing a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) as quickly as possible – to get an early advantage. Things like the memory/bandwidth requirements of an app and whether it causes battery drain or any other form of device-related problems also have to examined carefully. For Android developers, the excessive fragmentation of the platform poses a unique, and rather tricky, challenge.

Fifth Phase: Final Testing/Launch/App Store Optimization

Provided that testing had been carried out during the previous, successive phases – the final round of app testing won’t take much time. Once again, developers themselves should not double up as testers – and a separate team of software testing experts have to handle the task. Also, a well-planned testing structure can reduce the overall time and cost associated with making a new mobile app.

After the testing stage is complete (good developers will never try to cut corners while doing this), the app is ready for takeoff…or, in more prosaic terms, ready for submission in the app stores. On average, it takes 4-6 days for a new app to be approved in the Apple App Store. For Android apps, the process is much quicker – with new apps getting approved within 3 hours. Apple introduced human reviews way back in 2008, while Google rolled this out in March 2015.

At the time of launch, due importance have to be given to app store optimization (ASO) strategies. Close to 80% of all download behaviour is triggered through organic searches in stores – and if an app does not come up in these searches, that would be a problem (relegating it to the category of ‘zombie apps’). The keywords, the app name, icon, screenshot(s), store descriptions and promo videos (for Android) form critical elements of the overall ASO plan. Find out more about ASO over here.

Final Word

Making a mobile app is not a ‘one-and-done’ process, by any stretch of the imagination. The initial reviews and ratings at the store have to be closely monitored – and if there are problems reported, the underlying bugs have to be fixed as quickly as possible. In addition, a mobile app has to be updated at regular intervals…and every time a new version is planned, the app development lifecycle (except, obviously, the first phase) has to be revisited.

Complete familiarity with the app development lifecycle is an absolute must for developers, before they take up new projects. It’s all about working in a systematic, streamlined, agile manner – and following the lifecycle allows development teams to do just that.

 

Top 13 Tips To Make Virtual Reality Games & Apps

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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How to make apps with VR technology

 

Virtual reality (VR) has well and truly emerged as a booming sub-sector in the domain of mobile app development. In 2016, the total downloads of VR apps and games witnessed a 276% increase over the previous year (the download count being more than 225 million). In terms of revenues too, the recent performance of virtual reality tools has been staggering. The industry has been projected to reach $75 billion by the end of 2021 – a growth of over 957% over the current figures ($7.2 billion). Not surprisingly, many conventional app developers have started to work on the VR platform. Over here, we will share some tips and pointers for those who wish to start making VR-based apps:

  1. Learn the languages

    It would be naive to try to learn about the game engines without having a solid base of programming expertise. C# and C++ are the two scripting languages every game developer should master thoroughly. The language you decide to learn first would also determine the engine with which you can start developing VR games. Thorough expertise and experience of working with C++ and C# will let you get the maximum out of the existing game engines, and make tweaks in the source codes (as and when required) without any hassles.

  2. Get familiar with VR hardware

    Before you get down to development, you should have a fair idea of the devices that you will be developing for. Start off gradually – with experimentation on hardware with 3 DOF (like Google Cardboard). Once you get a proper hang of that, move on to more popular VR tools like Oculus Rift (Facebook), Playstation (Sony) and Valve HTC Vive (each of which offers 6 DOF). An in-depth knowledge of positional tracking mechanisms will help you create blueprints of new VR games with ease.

  3. Start off with the mobile platform

    With virtual reality and augmented reality (AR), there are practically no limits to the degree of realism that can be incorporated in games and applications. For new developers, it would be prudent to start VR development on the mobile platform first (a simplistic mobile web app, perhaps) – and then move on to PCs and consoles later. While working on VR apps for smartphones and tablets, you can pick up important nitty-gritty about the technology – things that will stand you in good stead when you scale up to other platforms.

Note: During the Christmas week in 2016, more than 20 million VR apps were downloaded from the Apple App Store. The corresponding figure from Google Play Store was in excess of 37 million.

  1. Learn Unity first; Unreal Engine comes later

    After you have gathered the required programming acumen and have a decent idea of existing VR hardware tools, it will be time to get started with game development engines. Provided that you know C# well, you can easily start out as a Unity developer. The engine is basic and user-friendly, has a gentle learning curve, and can deliver very high-quality, immersive games. On the other hand, your knowledge of C++ will help you learn the features and capabilities of Unreal Engine (by Epic). Both Unity and Unreal Engine can be used to make high-quality 2D and 3D games – although UE does have an edge when it comes to making advanced 3D gaming apps. Unity 5.6 was launched about a month ago, while Unreal Engine 4.15 came out in February.

  2. Identify and deploy user-friendly buttons

    A VR app might have the best of features – but if it cannot be controlled easily, it won’t find much favour among end-users. This, in turn, brings to light the importance of using easy-to-control buttons (and no, not all buttons are the same) in VR software. Try to avoid using ‘grip buttons’ unless they are really required, and go with single button trackpads, ‘trigger buttons’, menus and interaction buttons (3D) instead. Four-button trackpads are also rather difficult to control.

  3. The audio factor

    High-quality audio effects (background music, narrations, special sounds, dialogues, etc.) can significantly boost the immersiveness of mobile VR applications. Experts from the field of game development agree that ‘sound is half the image’ – with the audio support complementing the visual elements of any game. In a three-dimensional space, different types of sounds can be used to capture the attention of users and make them explore more. Without good audio, even an otherwise good VR app seems half-baked.

  4. Provide users with a definite starting point

    Do not make your audience wander as to how they can start playing your brand new VR game. Provide a starting point in the form of a ‘Start’ button, which they will have to press/tap – to get immersed in your application. The presence of this starting point would ensure easy onboarding for users, and will remind them to keep their VR headsets and controllers ready. Once the game starts, this start button can double up as one of the primary controllers.

  5. Consistency and predictability are important

    The experience you deliver to users via VR apps and games should be consistent with the interactions in the real-world. Find out how you can include additional gaming layers over and above the real environment, with the help of virtual reality and augmented reality. The assets used in a VR game (for instance, a torch) should function in the same way as it does in the real world. People have certain expectations while interacting with things around them – and if the same/similar things are replicated in the virtual world, the interaction results should be consistent with these expectations. Making something way too outlandish is never a good idea.

  6. Pay attention to framerates

    Whether your ambitious VR game looks outstanding or decidedly tacky depends on the framerates of the elements used in it. As a rule of thumb, avoid including anything in your game that has a sub-90 fps (frames-per-second) rate. You can, in fact, set the minimum graphics settings of your VR app to 90 fps. VR apps with high framerates have a definite ‘presence’ about them – and have much more chances of being liked by end-users.

  7. Make use of visual clues

    It is not always the smartest option to let users look in every direction, while playing a VR game. What’s more, you are not likely to have all the necessary resources to develop for the entire area. Customize the app design in a manner so that users get definite visual clues about the direction in which they are supposed to gaze at any point. In the virtual world, these ‘gaze clues’ serve as handy guiding tools. They also cut down on the total amount of VR development required. A #win-win for developers and end-users alike!

  8. Pay attention to VR analytics

    The importance of delivering top-notch VR-experience to final users cannot be overemphasized. The technology is still relatively new – and as a developer, the onus is on you to keep track of how people behave, while using your mobile application. Find out whether most people play your game till completion, or if there is a point where significant drop-off occurs. If the latter is indeed the case, find out and eliminate the underlying problem. Remember…most users at present download VR apps to check out the technology – and if a certain app makes them dizzy or uncomfortable in any other way, they are not going to use it.

  9. Don’t bring things ‘too near’

    Ever tried to watch a 3D movie while sitting in the front row, extremely close to the screen? It is not a pleasant experience, and if you bring the VR gameplay too close to the eyes of the user, (s)he will face similar problems. App developers working with VR tools need to have a proper idea about depth perception – the benchmark distance level at which the activities in a VR game should take place.

  10. Study references; Prototype your VR apps

    Prototyping is an integral part of VR app development. You need to create multiple prototypes of your product (minimum viable products, or MVPs), share it with testers/other users, and actively collect feedback from them. Ideally, the feedback loop for your game should start with the first prototype you create. Also, check out the successful VR apps available at present (Superhot VR, Pokemon Go and Minecraft VR are good examples). Find out the points that make these games tick, and try to incorporate such features in your app. Regular networking with other VR developers, and close collaborations with UI designers and testers are also essential.

Keep yourself updated with all the changes happening in VR technology (particularly the new SDKs). Do not limit yourself to first-person viewpoint games, since there are plenty of other interesting perspectives and views to work with. Scale the elements/assets in your VR app carefully – so that they do not seem unrealistic. Give users the option to customize text size and type. Having a keen eye for detail is an absolute must, when you are making a virtual reality software.

Games account for close to 57% of all VR applications – comfortably the biggest app category in this technology. The second and third positions are taken up by entertainment apps (18%) and image/video apps (11%) respectively. The world of VR apps is all set to grow bigger, the scopes for developers in this field are excellent, and you can follow the points mentioned above to come up with high-quality VR software.

 

 

Twitter vs Facebook: Which One Is Better For Business?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Comparison of Facebook and Twitter for business

 

At first glance, this might seem to be a no-competition. With 1.86 billion active users every month (as reported in February 2017), Facebook is nearly 6 times larger than Twitter – which has an active monthly user base of 285 million. By the end of this year, the total user-count of FB will comfortably go past the 2 billion mark. However, the Twitter microblogging platform has its very own advantages – and in this Twitter vs Facebook comparative analysis, we will find out which of these social media platforms is more useful for businesses:

  1. Getting started

    Twitter is a no-frills platform, where you can start to promote your business from the word go. Even if you do not bother redesigning the home page, it won’t look particularly out-of-place (okay, maybe a little common). On the other hand though, a Facebook business page has to be properly customized first – with a high-quality cover image, a profile picture, and other visual elements – before you can start to post on it. A FB business page with missing cover image and only a handful of ‘likes’ is hardly of any value.

Note: It’s almost like a certain social standard has to be maintained, when you start to use Facebook for business. On Twitter, there are no such ‘minimum standards’.

  1. Longevity of posts

    Facebook aces this one. The platform is ideal for building long-term relationships with prospective customers – and posts made on FB pages exist forever. Visibility is determined by the special algorithm used by Facebook, and depends crucially on the number of ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘shares’ each post generates (i.e., interaction levels). Twitter, however, is all about the ‘here-and-the-now’ – with new tweets coming up thick and fast, crowding out the older tweets. In order to retain visibility, posts have to be much more frequently (multiple times a day) made than on FB. On the latter, a popular post can keep bringing in viewers for a week.

  2. Business vs Personal

    Do you want your business to be contacted by individuals (and not only by other businesses) via social media? If yes, Twitter will be the network to go with. On Facebook, there is a clear distinction between ‘personal pages’ and ‘business pages’ – and general users can only leave messages on these FB ‘business pages’. Twitter offers greater convenience in this regard – simply because there are no personal/business distinctions here. Anyone interested in your company can directly contact with your business by adding a ‘@’.

  3. Connecting with new people

    Say, you are an entrepreneur – and you wish to network with other business leaders from your domain. On Facebook, you have to search for their profiles, and send along separate ‘friend requests’ to each of them. There is no certainty whether these ‘friend requests’ will be accepted (or even viewed, for that matter!). Twitter bypasses this potential roadblock easily. You can directly contact others here, to ask questions, initiate conversations, resolve queries, exchange opinions, or simply ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ others’ posts.

  4. Video marketing

    Last year, a survey found that posts with videos had the highest ‘reach’ on Facebook (nearly 1% higher than general status updates; more than double than that of images). Over time, video marketing has become an effective tool in the hands of businesses – and Facebook is often the preferred platform for that. In fact, FB might well be considered as a rival of YouTube in this regard. Twitter has a slightly different (and not as effective) strategy for video marketing – with the focus being more on short videos and live user streams, through apps like Vine (uploads discontinued last October) and Periscope. In general, Facebook has the edge when it comes to getting maximum exposure for relatively longer video clips.

Note: Over the last couple of years, the organic reach of FB posts (in particular) has been going down. This has happened due to changes in the underlying algorithms, and has brought paid advertising into the picture.

  1. Short information bursts vs interactive storytelling

    Facebook is the ideal channel to introduce your product, give it a personality, and create an engaging story about it. If viewers find your style of storytelling interesting, they will interact through comments (and maybe even direct messages). Twitter’s 140-character limit, on the other hand, makes it ideal for sharing bit-sized pieces of facts, stats and other information. Optimal usage of hashtags ensure that the tweets remain relevant for some time. Given the speed of information flow in the Twitterati, the same tweets might have to be shared multiple times.

Note: Last month, Twitter stopped counting the ‘@’ replies in the 140-character limit.

  1. Using several accounts

    Businesses can create as many twitter accounts as they want – depending on their requirements. Although not a particularly ethical option, creating multiple accounts to share the same tweets (thereby keeping the info on top of the feed) is also a strategy often resorted to. Facebook, however, is more closely policed. Creation and posting from multiple FB accounts repeatedly can lead to any (or all!) of the pages getting banned. In case the individual user page – to which the business page is linked – gets banned, that can be a big problem. Last week, Facebook launched yet another campaign to remove spam accounts.

  2. Audience and budget

    If you are an entrepreneur with a large number of friends/followers on FB, it is a good idea to divert that audience to a dedicated business page. Given that these followers are already interested in your activities – it is relatively easy to start promoting stuff to them gradually. The Twitter platform, in comparison, is more suited towards more niche topics and activities (and the pre-existence of a larger group of followers is not required). The Twitter audience is typically more likely to participate in live event feeds, latest news topics and other real-time events, than on Facebook – which is more about ‘passive engagement’. In addition, to increase the number of ‘likes’ for a FB business page beyond a point, some paid campaigns are required – and having a budget for that becomes necessary. It is much easier to increase Twitter followers without having to spend money.

Note:Buying followers’ on Twitter and availing any auto-liker service on Facebook are both serious black-hat strategies. You should steer well clear of such activities.

  1. Paid advertising

    With gradually dwindling organic post ‘reach’, both Facebook and (to a lesser extent) Twitter are moving to a ‘pay-to-play’ environment. Over here, FB offers greater advantages to users. While both Facebook and Twitter paid advertising are detailed and user-friendly, the former goes deeper while targeting the audience. The most important factor, however, is the significantly higher costs for running ad campaigns on Twitter. Researches have found that, FB ads are almost 5 times cheaper than advertisements on Twitter.

  2. Virality and real-time news

    In a matter of minutes, a hashtag can start to trend on Twitter. For instance, if you are a mobile app developer, you can start using a particular hashtag (related to apps) in your tweets and get others in your circle to do the same. As soon as the number of ‘average mentions’ of a topic goes beyond a point, that topic starts to trend (the minimum bar required for trending varies from one topic to another). While Facebook also introduced trending topics in 2014 – the FB trends are not as reflective of the actual buzz among people, simply because very few people keep the visibility of their posts as ‘Public’. Most people come on Facebook to casually browse around – while the Twitter audience is, on average, more focused and on the lookout for real-time updates on the latest topics of interest.

Note: Although the overall user-base is much larger in Facebook, Twitter might well have the more relevant group of followers for your business. On the microblogging platform, a much larger percentage of users (49%) follow companies, than on Facebook.

   11.  Different metrics for measuring popularity

Twitter is about proactively tweeting, very frequently, and on recent, relevant topics. Facebook is more oriented towards posts that have greater staying power – with a definite storytelling angle. This difference between the two platforms is best highlighted by the metrics they push out as a measure of their popularity. Facebook typically cites the number of ‘active users’ per day or per month, and the amount of time viewers ‘stick’ to a page. Twitter, on its part, focuses on the ‘number of tweets sent out in a day’ – emphasising on the higher rate of information turnover.

   12. Visibility

Among social media networks, Facebook is a behemoth. It is larger than Twitter or Instagram or WhatsApp many times over – and there is way too much content over here. According to SMO experts, only around 20% of all posts on business pages are visible to targeted users. Visibility can be enhanced only by ‘boosting’ posts (i.e., paid advertising). However, if you are active enough on Twitter, there is every chance of being able to reach out to every single of your followers without launching a paid campaign. The fact that Twitter offers better searchability is yet another advantage.

Facebook, with its ecosystem of groups, communities, apps and games, offers more to general users than Twitter – which is, in essence, an platform to quickly share information/opinions. However, from a strictly business perspective – the smaller microblogging platform offers greater advantages, particularly for users which have plenty of content to share…and is willing to tweet frequently. Social media marketing can no longer afford to be only about Facebook – with Twitter and the other networks being considered only as an after-thought. Twitter for business is growing bigger – and if you neglect it, you do so at your own peril!

 

 

Top 12 Android Trends For 2017

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Top Android trends in 2017: List

 

In terms of market shares in the smartphone industry, Google’s Android stands head and shoulders above all its rivals. According to a 2016 study by Gartner, close to 88% of all active smartphones are Android devices. Interestingly, the market share of Android also showed an annual growth of ~3% last year. Taken together, Android and Apple’s iOS make up close to 99.7% of the overall smartphone industry (iOS itself has a lowly 11.5% market share, with a slight fall last year). In today’s piece, we will take a look at some interesting Android trends for 2017:

  1. Arrival of Android on desktop

    Ever since it was announced last October, Google’s ambitious Project Andromeda has been in the news. In 2017, mobile software and Android app developers fully expect the mobile platform to become available on laptops, desktops and convertible computer systems. In essence, it will be a seamless merger of Android with Chrome OS. Google can also take a cue from Microsoft and bring together mobile and desktop functionalities (just like Windows Continuum does). The biggest challenge in this context lies in the fragmented update model of Android. On the desktop platform, new updates have to be rolled out faster – and not with a two-year lag.

  2. Improvements in Artificial Intelligence

    The quality of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning on Android devices has been increasing over the last few quarters. A survey conducted last year revealed that the Android AI quality stood at an impressive 93.9% – nearly 4% up from the corresponding figure in 2014. The productivity and capabilities of in-app chat bots and digital assistants should continue to go up in 2017 – while third-party app makers will be able to include custom commands to the Google Assistant (which is definitely an upgrade over Google Now). The user-friendliness of Google Play is also set to get a boost with the help of a neural network – making the task of searching for mobile apps that much easier.

  3. Developing Android apps with Swift

    Swift went open-source in December 2015, and ever since then there have been rumours about the programming language becoming available to Android developers. This week, Swift University – an Italian tech school – announced a first-of-its-kind Android-oriented learning course with Swift and the Android integrated development environment (IDE). Creation of cross-platform applications and porting iOS apps onto Android will be dealt with in the course as well. Swift broke into the list of top ten programming languages for the first time in March 2017 (according to TIOBE Index) – and its use for making Android apps will help the language become even more popular.

  4. Virtual Reality and 4K Phones

    Both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are likely to become integral elements of high-end Android handsets this year. That, in turn, will make 4K Android phones more commonplace. Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 may or may not have 4K screens – but over the next 2-3 quarters, phones with 4K displays will be launched by different OEMs (Sony Xperia Z5 Premium made the first splash in this context, with its Ultra HD screen resolution).  The quality of VR in 4K phones will be outstanding and app developers will be able to deliver more immersive experience with VR-supported games. For saving battery power, users will be able to to switch off the VR mode and use the Quad HD/1080p display.

  5. Growth Of Android Instant Apps

    The Instant Apps technology was first showcased at Google I/O 2016, and testing/rollout started earlier this year. At present, only devices upgraded to the latest Android version (Nougat) support Instant Apps – with the support likely to be extended to all handsets running on Android 4.1 and above this year. Android Instant Apps offer two-fold advantages – for end-users, it becomes easy to check out the main features of an app on devices, without having to actually download the entire thing (a fragment of the app gets downloaded). Developers, on the other hand, can benefit from the greater modularity – since Android Instant Apps require the same APIs and source codes, and separate app versions do not have to be created. A probable downside of the proliferation of Instant Apps is the lesser user-engagement with new applications.

  6. IoT in focus

    By 2020, an average smartphone-user will use, on average, 6 active connections. Internet of Things – mostly in testing for the last couple of years – will grow in a big way in 2017 and beyond, covering 50 billion connected devices by the end of this decade. In addition to home automation and smart cars, the concept of ‘smart cities’ (powered by cutting-edge technologies like Semtech’s LoRa) is also gaining traction at present. Mobile app developers, while working on Android or iOS platforms, will look for opportunities to come up with advanced, multi-featured IoT apps.

  7. Mobile payments on the rise

    The ho-hum response to Google Wallet notwithstanding, the arrival of Android Pay (along with Apple Pay) has provided a significant thrust to the volume of m-payments carried out worldwide. Experts from the field of software and app development have estimated that the value of m-transactions will inch close to the $120 billion mark by the end of 2018. This year, Google will continue in its bid to make the service integration more robust, and several new Android apps with integrated Pay support will be released (Groupon, Open Table, etc.). In a survey conducted in March, it was found that 9.7% of the respondents had made at least one transaction with Android Pay. With greater awareness, this figure will rise.

  8. New batch of Android smartwatches

    Android Wear 2.0 was finally rolled out in February – and before the end of 2017, we should see several new Android smartwatches (running on the upgraded platform) hit the markets. There are considerable scopes in this segment of the market – with Apple Watch being a premium gadget, and existing Android watches not being exactly popular (the Samsung Gear 3, for instance, packs in too much functionality for its own good). Huawei Watch 2/Watch 2 Classic, Guess Connect and Misfit Vapor are some of the new Android smartwatches that should be launched in the next 2-3 quarters.

  9. Android apps to be more secure

    With more and more personal data (health, financial, academic, etc.) being stored in smartphones – concern over app security standards is going through the roof at present. To tackle probable cases of security breaches, the Android platform will bring in more mandatory app permissions at runtime. The point-to-point interactions of a user with any Android application will be completely secure. The onus lies on Android app developers to ensure that their software complies with the existing security standards.

  10. War of the mobile digital assistants

    The tussle between Google Assistant (to be expanded to beyond the Pixel phones) and Bixby – the all-new AI-based digital assistant Samsung Galaxy S8 will ship with – will be the one to watch in 2017. Bixby has run into early troubles though, and the upcoming Samsung flagship will ship without full functionality for the assistant (Bixby will not have voice support on S8), and only Bixby Vision will be present on the handset. Other OEMs are likely to follow the footsteps of Google in this context. LG, however, does have the hardware array to bring its very own AI assistant to the table.

  11. In-App Search to become mainstream

    Native Google applications like YouTube and Gmail already have In-App Search, and this year – third-party app developers will embed this feature in their upcoming apps. Supported apps will include a dedicated search bar, and users will be able to search anything within an application by using a single keyword. Apart from new apps, the In-App Search functionality will also be available in updated versions of existing apps. The fact that this search capability resides within the device (and is not stored in the cloud) is an added advantage.

  12. Apps with powerful location-based services

    The rip-roaring success of Pokemon Go has clearly showed that there is a demand for high-quality, location-based apps and games (both on Android and iOS). Interest in augmented reality is also on a major upswing, with more than $1 billion being invested on VR and AR by early-2016. Over the next few months, it won’t be surprising if several AR-supported, location-based applications make their way to the Play Store. In particular, Android gaming standards will get a serious boost.

All eyes are currently on Google I/O 2017, scheduled to be held on 17-19 May – with various reports on the likely announcements at the annual conference already available on the web. With Google’s Pixel phones having limited appeal in Europe, a fight between Samsung and Huawei is brewing in this market. The trend of new phones with smaller bezels and more display areas (the Galaxy S8 will be bezelless) will gather more momentum this year. There will also be significant increases in the availability of apps in Google Play Store (which currently has 2.8 million+ applications). iOS might be the platform with greater revenue potential (25% of iOS developers have monthly incomes higher than $5000, as opposed to 16% Android developers) – but Android rules the roost in terms of market share. It is mighty important to keep track of the trends mentioned above, and keep an eye out for new ones.

What’s New In iOS 10.3?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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iOS 10.3 list of new features

 

According to an official Apple report in February, the adoption of iOS 10 had reached a mighty impressive 79%. In terms of adoption figures – the performance of iOS 10 is, in fact, marginally better than even iOS 9 (which had been installed on ~76% active devices within the first five months of its launch). iOS 10.3 – the third major iOS 10 update – was released by Apple on March 27 (followed by iOS 10.3.1 earlier this week). The update has quite a few interesting new features, to which we turn our attention in what follows:

  1. Smoother app transition animations

    Apple has done a neat little change with the animations – making them shorter and just that little bit quicker. That, in turn, adds a ‘crisper’ feel to the overall user interface (UI). On an upgraded iDevice, the changes in the animation scheme can be detected at the time of launching or closing any application. The edges of the app icons have also been made slightly more rounded than before.

  2. Find My AirPods

    The W1-chip powered AirPods – launched last year along with iPhone 7 – have found widespread favour from users across the globe. However, there have also been many reports of people misplacing the small-sized earbuds (which are, let’s face it, rather expensive too!). The iOS 10.3 update comes with a handy ‘Find My Airpods’ feature, inside the ‘Find My iPhone’ application. Provided that the AirPods are connected via Bluetooth with an iPhone, all that the users have to do is tap a button – to generate a sound – which keeps increasing in frequency – in either or both the earbuds. A detailed log of the location(s) where the AirPods were last connected to the iPhone is also displayed.

Note: The usefulness of the ‘Find My AirPods’ feature is somewhat limited due to the absence of GPS radio (geo-sensors) in the earbuds. Also, if the AirPods are in their box, they cannot be tracked using this feature.

  1. Distribution of iCloud Storage

    That’s right – people can now check at any time how their iCloud Storage space is being used. On tapping the iCloud section inside the ‘Settings’ app, all the applications that are taking up cloud storage space are displayed. There are bar diagrams as well, to show the amount of space taken up by the different types of applications/data. This makes it easier than ever before to detect any app that might be hogging too much of memory/storage – and get rid of it.

  2. More powerful Siri

    Apple’s mobile digital assistant Siri has been getting smarter with practically every new iOS update. In iOS 10.3 too, Siri gets new capabilities. For instance, users can now tell Siri to schedule a Lyft or Uber cab ride in future, and the digital assistant will do the needful. Third-party iPhone app developers have the option of using the latest SiriKit version to come up with user-friendly, prompt and secure bill-payment apps. The status of payments made can also be checked any time – thanks to the more powerful Siri.

  3. A new file system

    The biggest new feature of iOS 10.3 is one that happens completely under the hood. The long-standing HFS+ file system in iPhones/iPads have finally made way to the more robust APFS (Apple File System). Devices are automatically upgraded to the new file system, as soon as the iOS 10.3 update is installed in them. APFS offers built-in support for NAND flash storage and SSD (solid state drives) – and is, hence, more optimized than HFS+. Better encryption, snapshots, directory/file cloning and copy-on metadata write are some other useful new features that APFS brings to the table. It has also been confirmed that APFS can free up 1.5-2 GB of storage area.

Note: The new file system is the main reason behind the rather slow download speed of the iOS 10.3 update (size → ~600 MB).

  1. Dynamic app icons

    On iOS 10.3, mobile app developers no longer have to push out new versions of their applications each time they wish to tweak the app icons. Such changes can be made more frequently and seamlessly, with no interference to the app-usage experience. What’s more – people can now (if they are allowed by developers) set customized icons for their iOS apps. For example, in the ‘At Bat’ app (Major League Baseball), a person can set his/her favourite team’s logo as the app icon.

  2. Cloud calling on Verizon

    This one is exclusively for all the Verizon users out there (since T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T already supported iCloud calling from beforehand). The latest iOS 10 update has brought greater continuity to this feature – by adding Verizon to the fold. Once the cloud calling feature is activated (Settings → Phone → Call On Other Devices → On to set up wifi calling), users can easily make/receive on iPads, iPod Touch devices, Mac systems and even Apple Watch. The iPhone does not have to be near at hand all the time.

Note: At the time of activating the iCloud calling feature, users have to specify the iDevice(s) on which (s)he would prefer receiving calls.

  1. Compact Apple ID information

    iPhone-owners can see a new section for Apple ID profile (right inside the Settings app) – after they have upgraded their handsets to iOS 10.3. On this screen, a list of all the Apple devices a user is connected with at any time can be viewed. In addition, this section serves as a convenient, compact location to view all important information – right from contact details, payment information and Family Sharing, to the settings for security, App Store and iCloud account. Password changes and modifications in security profiles can be done from here.

  2. Weather Forecast on Apple Maps

    On iPhones with 3D Touch (i.e., iPhone 6S or iPhone 7) – the iOS 10.3 updates bundles an interesting new feature in the native Maps application. There is a dedicated weather widget (called by tapping the weather icon on the side) that generates 6-hour weather forecasts in the locality of a particular user. The embedded Weather app can also be launched by doing a long press on the same icon. People can add any location(s) as ‘favourite’ – and check weather information as and when required.

Note: Maps now offer a flat earth view instead of the rather confusing 3D spinning view (which had to be zoomed out to the max).

    10. Podcast widget

iOS is still nowhere as customizable by end-users as Android – but the Cupertino company has been working on this for the last couple of years. The ‘Today’ screen of iOS 10 is a classic example of the greater options that iPhone-users now have – and the 10.3 update has a nice feature addition for fans of podcasts. By swiping on the Home screen and tapping the green (+) tab next to the Podcasts, a new widget can be included to the Control Center (the layout of existing podcasts can also be modified). The cover art of all the subscribed podcasts are displayed in the widget. Users can resume listening from any point or launch a new podcast.

    11. Siri knows cricket; Parked cars in Maps

For cricket-lovers too, iOS 10.3 brings good news. The new and improved Siri can now give real-time updates from all Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and other fixtures recognized by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Another handy new feature is the option to look for ‘parked car’ in the Maps application. There is no need to remember the exact place where a vehicle had been parked – your iPhone will do it for you!

Note: On devices running on iOS 10.3, users can give voice commands to Siri for checking the gas levels in cars, sounding the horn, and/or switching on the headlights.

    12. Immersive app reviews and developer responses

Leaving a review/rating for an application has been made easier than before on the iOS 10.3 platform. End-users can provide such reviews directly from within the app (i.e., no need to go to the App Store separately). In addition, iOS app developers can now directly respond to the ratings, reviews, queries left by customers. In case an app receives low ratings and negative reviews, developers can quickly learn about the problems its users are facing – and perform the necessary fixes.

   13. Theater Mode on Apple Watch

The watchOS 3.2 update was released alongside iOS 10.3 – and it brings a cool new ‘Theater Mode’ functionality to the smartwatch. In this mode, the ‘Wake Screen on Wrist Raise’ feature gets deactivated and Silent Mode is turned on – ensuring that the Watch screen does not light up whenever the wearer is moving. Haptic feedback for notifications works – and users can tap the Watch face to view all unread notifications. ‘Theater Mode’ can be activated from the Control Center.

   14. CarPlay enhancements

The CarPlay platform has also received a boost with iOS 10.3. The ‘Up Next’ section on the Music app shows all the tracks in the queue. From Apple Music, the latest music categories are accessible – while new curated lists are available daily. The status bar now has handy shortcuts to recently used smart car applications, making app-switching quicker and easier (doing away with the need to return to the Home screen every time). Toggling between travel, social media, messaging, and other apps on the go becomes more convenient.

   15. Expanded Home app capabilities

The latest apple iOS update does its bit to make HomeKit-supported devices more user-friendly and easily manageable. Through the native Home app, users can load/trigger pre-programmed scenes (with the help of built-in buttons/switches). The remaining battery levels in HomeKit accessories can also be monitored with the Home application. After you have upgraded to 10.3, you’ll find that managing the smart lights at your home has become that much simpler.

For those who love movies, the iOS 10.3 update has brought the option of renting movies from iTunes and viewing it on any connected Apple device (no separate renting required). VoiceOver has been made more stable, while several irritating bugs have been fixed. With 32-bit iOS apps reportedly being phased out (iOS 11 will support only 64-bit apps) – the app compatibility checker of iOS 10.3 also makes a lot of sense.

The repeated notifications sent to iDevice owners for upgrading to the latest iOS version is often viewed as a distraction – but iOS 10.3, with its myriad of new features and enhancements – is a solid update. iOS 10 was referred to by many iPhone owners/enthusiasts as the best ever version of iOS…and Apple has indeed done a good job of improving it further.

 

 

Nokia 3310 Is Back! Check Out Its Top 12 Features

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Nokia 3310 will be relaunched in 2017

 

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium was there, the Moto G5 was there, the LG G6 was announced, and the Huawei P10 made an appearance. However, the biggest splash at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC 2017) was made by Nokia – which announced that the company will be relaunching its iconic Nokia 3310 handset (a market leader of the early 2000s). There is already considerable anticipation about the device – and, putting all nostalgia aside, the phone does have a fair few handy features as well. Over here, we will round up the most important features in the revamped Nokia 3310, scheduled to release in the second quarter of this year:

  1. Built-in camera

    The new and improved Nokia 3310 has its own camera, unlike its predecessor. What’s more – the 2 MP mobile camera is accompanied with LED flash as well. For people who like to take photos on the go, this is a great feature (even if the picture quality is not the greatest). Users can, of course, record videos with the handset too. There is no selfie camera though.

  2. Color display

    When it was first launched and became wildly popular, Nokia 3310 had a monochrome (B&W) display. That hardly made a difference – for at that time, buyers were a long way from becoming addicted to sharp colors and cool designs in their mobile phones. The 2017 version of Nokia 3310, however, has a 2.4” QVGA color display. The default screen resolution is 240×320 (no touchscreen feature) – which is good enough for a low-end feature phone.

  3. Mobile internet

    Nopes, the Nokia 3310 has not been made into a 4G smartphone. It is not going to support 3G either (the original version ruled the markets when there was no concept of wifi or mobile data). However, the handset does have a built-in web browser (Opera Mini) – via which, people can access Facebook, Twitter and other sites (with a 2.5G connection). If you are prepared to wait it out – you might well be surfing the internet on your Nokia 3310…and that’s not something anyone could have imagined 17 years back!

  4. Dual SIM feature

    Yet another upgrade over the original Nokia 3310. The new edition of the phone comes with dual-SIM (two micro-SIM cards) support. The phone supports GSM services, and is powered by the robust Series 30 operating system. Although, wifi and infrared connectivity are not supported by the phone (OTG cables cannot be used either) – the new 3310 does offer Bluetooth 3.0 functionality. There is a 3.5 mm headphone jack as well.

  5. Excellent battery performance

    Before the days of iPhones and Android handsets, there were plain feature phones (‘dumb phones’, anyone?) – which could be used for several days on single charge. The Nokia 3310 of 2017 is a hark back to those times. It promises a continuous talk time of 22 hours, along with a month-long (744 hours) standby period. The 1200mAh removable battery should last for multiple days – ensuring that users do not have to tag along the phone charger at all times (as is the case for most smartphones at present). More than 50 hours of music can be played on the Nokia 3310, without the phone being completely drained of battery.

  6. Storage space

    With a built-in internal storage space of 16MB, the redesigned Nokia 3310 allows users to store contacts in the Phonebook, save pictures in the Gallery and store music without any worries. Those who require more space can easily add a microSD card to expand the storage space (up to 32GB). Given that there are no mobile apps to be stored on the device (other than the native ‘messaging app’) – that is more than adequate phone storage.

  7. Return of Snake

    Snake, on the original Nokia 3310, remains one of the most iconic mobile games of all time. It make a grand return in the revamped version of the phone. At the MWC event, the sheer number of professionals thronging at the Nokia booth to check out the Snake game told its own story about the latter’s still-strong popularity. Slight tweaks have been made to the game (for instance, the Snake can now move in any direction, instead of only at right angles) – and it certainly adds to the overall nostalgia factor of the phone.

  8. Sleek appearance 

    While retaining the ‘bar’ form-factor of the original, Nokia has gone with a ‘modern twist on design’ for the new 3310 handset. The rounded corners are similar to what the 2000-model used to have, while the curved, polarized display takes up the screen readability in sunlight by several notches. The overall UI of the phone has been reconceptualized, and there are handy little push buttons present. Interestingly, the new Nokia 3310 is also significantly lighter (79 gm vs 133 gm) and slimmer (115.6mm x 51mm x 12.8mm) than its predecessor. Buyers can also take their pick from as many as 4 different body colorsDark Blue, Grey (matte) and Yellow, Warm Red (Gloss).

  9. MicroUSB charging

    Another great improvement over the older Nokia 3310, from the usability perspective. The pin-charger port has been replaced with a proper microUSB charging point in the device – ensuring that the device can be charged with any compatible microUSB cable. The microUSB port of Nokia 3310 can also be used for transferring items (music, photos, etc.) to and from the phone. The charging process is reasonably quick – and in terms of battery life, this phone is an absolute beast.

  10. Music player

    It’s not anything too fancy – but the basic music player (MP3) adds a lot of value to the upgraded Nokia 3310. Given the top-notch battery performance of the handset, the MP3 player (with the headphone jack) lets users enjoy high-quality audio/music while on the move. FM Radio is available as well – making it easy for people to listen to their favourite music at any time. With an external SD card, plenty of music files can be stored in the phone.

  11. A backup phone

    For all its cool new features and the obvious nostalgia quotient, the Nokia 3310 is not a smartphone – and it probably cannot match up to our everyday requirements from mobile devices (fast internet, for instance). However, the phone does what it is meant to do – voice calling, messaging, music and the Snake game – very well, and it can serve well as an emergency backup device. The superb standby performance of the phone enhances its value further. The new Nokia 3310 can also be bought as a nice, multi-featured mobile phone for kids.

  12. The appeal

    When the Nokia 3310 was last present in the market, DVDs were more popular than internet videos, Gmail and Google Maps had just been launched, ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’ was about to be released, and Facebook was known as ‘The Facebook’. The year was 2005 – and in the last decade, the global smartphone market has undergone a complete revolution. However, the Nokia 3310 handset – which was the first mobile phone for many 80s and 90s kids – has an old-world charm of its own. This ‘throwback nostalgia’ is one of the biggest reasons for the ‘unprecedented level of demand’ for the new Nokia phone (as reported by Carphone Warehouse). At 49 Euros, it is extremely affordable, and holds its own as a compact, efficient mobile device.

There remains some concerns over the future of the Nokia 3310, after the phone hits the markets this year. Professionals from the software and mobile app development fields have confirmed that the 3310 will work on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies (for 2G/2.5G connectivity). Now, these frequencies have already been discontinued in North America and South America – ruling out the chances of the phone being successful in these markets. In several other countries too, these frequency bands are likely to be phased out in the foreseeable future. The phone is all hype now and does have strong, upgraded features – but its demand might just be geographically limited.

Well over 125 million units of the original Nokia 3310 were shipped worldwide, before the model was discontinued in 2005. The handset is back in a sleeker, more sophisticated avatar (and with Snake!) – and the competitive pricing will also work in its favour. In India, nearly 55% of all mobile phone shipments are made up by feature phones, and interest levels are high in other parts of Asia and Europe as well. The stage is set for the grand re-entry of Nokia 3310 – and we will soon know whether it manages to match its immense hype.